God’s Provision

God’s Provision

Life & Light Community Church

Message from 8/20/2022

Life & Light Community Church began in the early months of 2020. What began as an opportunity for me, my wife and step-kids to continue to worship together, has now evolved into a ministry that has expanded to include close friends, family, and those who are simply hungry for the word of God. You can find us on Facebook, so please, feel free to reach out and join us.

“After these things Jesus went away to the other side of the Sea of Galilee (or Tiberias). A large crowd followed Him, because they saw the signs which He was performing on those who were sick. Then Jesus went up on the mountain, and there He sat down with His disciples. Now the Passover, the feast of the Jews, was near. Therefore Jesus, lifting up His eyes and seeing that a large crowd was coming to Him, said to Philip, “Where are we to buy bread, so that these may eat?” This He was saying to test him, for He Himself knew what He was intending to do. Philip answered Him, “Two hundred denarii worth of bread is not sufficient for them, for everyone to receive a little.” One of His disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to Him, “There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two fish, but what are these for so many people?” Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.”

Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, in number about five thousand. Jesus then took the loaves, and having given thanks, He distributed to those who were seated; likewise also of the fish as much as they wanted. When they were filled, He said to His disciples, “Gather up the leftover fragments so that nothing will be lost.” So they gathered them up, and filled twelve baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves which were left over by those who had eaten. Therefore when the people saw the sign which He had performed, they said, “This is truly the Prophet who is to come into the world.” So Jesus, perceiving that they were intending to come and take Him by force to make Him king, withdrew again to the mountain by Himself alone.                                 

                                                                                     John 6:1–15 (NASB95)

I think it can be safely said that the past 2 ½ years have been difficult for everyone. What began as a simple virus similar to the flu, turned into a world-wide pandemic, closing schools and businesses around the world. From there, we moved to essential workers only allowed to resume work, and travel for others was limited to essential needs only. Slowly things began to open once again but fear still held a grip on most people. Mask mandates were put into place but did little to quell the fear. Our supply chain has been broken to the point where we now find ourselves with increasing inflation and shortages of just about everything on our grocery store shelves, including the workers to stock those shelves.

As Christ followers, none of this should be surprising – it doesn’t make it any easier, but it should not be a surprise. If we are reading our Scriptures closely, we know the world will experience illness, famine, and disease as we grow ever closer to the return of Christ Jesus. What does make a difference for the Christ follower is that knowing in Jesus, we have God’s Provision, and more importantly, we know that Jesus is enough.

Jesus tests the disciples to see how they would provide bread for the natural need of hunger. The disciples immediately seek a solution through the worldly perspective of simply buying enough bread. But Jesus has a divine perspective as He gives thanks for the loaves and fish found among the people. After everyone is fed and twelve baskets of leftovers have been gathered, the people seek to force Jesus to be their king because of the sign that God’s Provision is always enough.

Yeshua tests the faith of the disciples by challenging them to feed the large crowd that follows Him. The disciples seek a man-made solution to obtaining enough bread to feed the people. But Jesus has a God-made solution, blessing what is found among the people, to feed those who follow Him. The disciples gather the leftovers into twelve baskets and the people have a worldly reaction as they seek to force Jesus to be king, missing the lesson that God’s Provision is always enough.

In this message we seek to answer the question, “How is God’s Provision always enough for the Christ follower?”

God’s Provision is always enough because it is a God-made solution coming from a divine perspective.

1). God’s Provision is always enough for the Christ follower because it comes from a God-made solution.

Man-made solutions always fall short and leave us feeling frustrated.

John moves us from Jerusalem to the Sea of Galilee with the words, “After these things…” After what things? Well, all of the things recorded in chapter 5, from the healing of the man ill for 38 years to the long discussion of Jesus as He defends Himself against the charges of blasphemy and Sabbath breaking. While we do not know why John does not include any of the events from Jerusalem to the Sea of Galilee, there are several things of which we can be certain. First, we can safely assume that John expected this gap to be noticed. John’s letter was intended to be read aloud in a communal setting, given this, we can be certain the gap would have been noticed and addressed. And we can safely assume the events of chapter 6 happen in the springtime. In verse 4 John tells us the Passover Feast was near and Passover happens in the spring.

Why does John tell us about Passover being near and why is it important? First, the crowds are larger as they travel to Jerusalem to celebrate the Feast. This would also serve to heighten the anticipation associated with the promise of the coming Messiah. Secondly, Passover is followed by the Feast of Unleavened Bread and the Feast of First Fruits. These feasts have a rich, deep meaning for the Jewish nation and all three will find their fulfillment in Yeshua. Finally, though the lessons will be missed by the crowd, Yeshua will teach that He is the bread of life and that He, Yeshua, as God’s Provision, is enough.

In addition to this background information, there is something else about Yeshua of which we must take notice. Yeshua sets Himself up as a “Moses-like” figure. Verse 2 tells us there is a large crowd following Yeshua. This is the first clue as to what is about to take place. Like Moses, Yeshua has a large crowd following Him. Next, we see that Yeshua “went up on the mountain…” Like Moses, Yeshua teaches from a mountain. Next Yeshua asks how they can feed the large crowd who follows Him. Like Moses, Yeshua provides food for those who follow Him. And finally, Moses teaches the Torah, the Law of Moses and like Moses, Yeshua teaches the Torah. All of this ties into the Passover Feast as the Feast draws ever closer. 

Now we find Yeshua testing the disciples – how to provide bread for the large crowd that is following Him. John tells us in verse 6 that Yeshua knew what He was intending to do. The disciples immediately seek a man-made solution to the test by Yeshua. I am also convinced that Yeshua knew exactly how the disciples would answer and thus, the test in the first place. The disciples first look to money as the answer. Philip says 200 denarii would not be enough to buy bread for everyone. The denarius is equivalent to a day’s wage during this time. Next, we see Andrew looking for resources on hand. He finds the lunch of a young boy, five barley loaves and two fish.

Before we can condemn the disciples, we should first take a look in the mirror. How many times have we turned to man-made solutions for our problems? How many times have bemoaned the fact that there just doesn’t seem to be enough money? Or how many times have we searched high and low for all the resources, whatever they might be, that we have on hand to try and fix our issue? When we should be turning to the God of all resources, we find ourselves running around like a “chicken with its head cut off,” seeking an earthly solution for our problems.

When we have exhausted our resources, when we have expended all our strength, when we have come to the end of our rope – just when it seems things are hopeless, we have finally arrived right where God wants us – fully dependent upon Him and a God-made solution. It is difficult when we are caught in the middle of the storm, but we must learn to shift our focus from the man-made to the God-made solution. God can see things coming that we do not and cannot. We can only see those things directly before us, by putting our trust in the God of all resources, we move from dependence on ourselves to being fully dependent upon God Himself.

Questions for discussion/reflection:

Where is Yeshua testing you today? What was your immediate reaction?

In the middle of the storm, are you seeking man-made solutions, or do you look for a God-made solution?

What situation are you facing that requires a God-made solution?

God’s Provision is always enough because it is a God-made solution coming from a divine perspective.

2). God’s Provision is always enough for the Christ follower because it comes from a divine perspective.

The worldly perspective seeks only material things and earthly satisfaction. 

In verse 10 John gives us a piece of information that helps us put things in perspective. John tells us the crowd numbered 5,000 men. Why did John give us this information and why is it important? First, is the most obvious, this number only includes men. Ancient tradition only included men when counting crowds so this number would be considerably larger than the 5,000 John records. Secondly, archeological evidence tells us the village of Nazareth had a population of no more than 200 people, leading us to the third point, this indicates the following of Yeshua had moved from the local level to the regional level.

With this in mind, we now find Yeshua, as always, teaching His disciples. This time we see something different in Yeshua, something He wants for His disciples. Within this passage we find four different types of faith. We see a 1) pessimistic faith; 2) an optimistic faith; 3) a positive, unswerving faith; and finally, a materialistic, worldly faith. Philip exhibits the pessimistic faith. It is no surprise we see this from Philip for he is from Bethsaida, a town that rejected Yeshua and is, ultimately, cursed by Yeshua (Matt. 11:21-22). A pessimistic faith only sees human resources and money. It sees only the available resources and stresses the hopelessness of the situation. It stresses the impossibility of the situation and despairs the meager resources. A pessimistic faith does not see God or the power of God.

The next faith we see is found in Andrew, an optimistic but questioning faith. Andrew searches the crowd and finds five barley loaves and two fish but immediately questions the sufficiency of what he has to present. An optimistic faith lays what it has before God, no matter how small or how poor the quality but questions that what is offered is enough. An optimistic faith doubts whether there is enough, complains about the problem, is anxious about the quantity of the offering and grumbles and gripes over the quality of the offering. In this case, the fish comes from a boy’s lunch, meaning they are likely small, and the barley loaves are the bread of the poor. It is the cheapest to make or to buy.

In Yeshua we see the third kind of faith, a positive, unswerving faith. This is the kind of faith Yeshua wants for all of His disciples. A positive, unswerving faith gives what it has, does what it can, and then trusts God to do the rest. Yeshua took what He had and gave thanks; He accepted the offering of resources as they were. Yeshua trusted God the Father to multiply the resources; and He gave the resources to the disciples to distribute. There is no grumbling, no complaining, no doubting that what is offered is enough, even though Yeshua was likely able to place this offering in the palm of His hand.

The final faith is seen in the reaction of the crowd as they seek to force Yeshua to be their earthly king. This is the materialistic, worldly faith. Notice the people claim Yeshua is the Prophet foretold in Scripture, this is a purely Mosaic position, once again, pitting Yeshua against Moses. The expectation of the people is an earthly Messiah that would meet their personal needs by providing food for their hunger; healing for their sickness; deliverance from their trials; comfort for their sorrows; plenty for their wants; peace for their disturbances; and victory over their enemies.

As Christ followers, we have all likely experienced each of these stages of faith in our walk with Yeshua. We must remember our faith is a life-long journey, we will not perfect it quickly, but we must continue to seek to grow our faith and maturity at every opportunity. When the storms of life come upon us it is easy to throw our hands up and panic, but take a beat, let the first wave of panic wash over you but do not allow it to hold you under! Come up gasping for air if you must but come up and remember you know the One who calms the storms!

Questions for discussion/reflection:

What stage of faith are you experiencing in this season of life?

When was the last time you gave all you have without grumbling and complaining?

How are the storms of life trying to “hold you under?”

God’s Provision is always enough because it is a God-made solution coming from a divine perspective.

The disciples gathered up twelve (12) baskets of leftovers. John tells us this was happened “when they were filled,” so we can rest assured no one went away hungry. But what, exactly, is the significance of the number twelve (12)? Most people simply focus on twelve (12) because it is the number of the tribes of Israel, and that is a fair point. Some try to reach further and say it foreshadows the gathering of Israel at the end of time – but, like I said, that is a reach.

The number twelve (12), considered to be a perfect number, is the symbol of God’s power and authority, as well as serving as a prefect governmental foundation. In this passage, it indicates that Yeshua is enough, not only for the Galilean Israelites in our passage, but also for those residing in Judea, and also for all of Israel – all twelve (12) tribes – including the Samaritan Israelites. Make no mistake here, what we see is God’s Provision coming in abundance, but we cannot look past the fact that this provision came through Yeshua, the Son of God. The point should be clear – Yeshua is enough!

This is true for the Christ follower today as well. When we have come to the end of our strength – Yeshua is enough. When the situation seems hopeless – Yeshua is enough. When it seems what we have to offer is cheap and worthless – Yeshua is enough. When our perspective is blurred and out of focus – Yeshua is enough. We can rest peacefully at night, not because of anything we have done, but simply because – Yeshua is enough.

Yeshua is God’s Provision because – Yeshua is enough!

We do all things for the glory of God, through Christ our Lord,

Amen and amen.

Next week: John 6:16-21

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